Having an Attitude (for Customer Service)

In a previous post we started talking about customer service and the three areas that affect it. You may remember that those three are:
1. Attitude
2. Ability
3. Structure

In this post, I want to talk more about attitude and what that means.

In the previous post, I mentioned that attitude encompasses the attitude of the business (it’s culture), the owner (or owners), and the employees. (Yes, even a solo entrepreneur has employees — the entrepreneur.) A business can be business-focused, customer-focused, or even, third-party-focused. (Third party focus can happen in regulated industries when the business becomes more concerned with satisfying the regulators than the customers. It can also happen when the consumers of the product or service of the business are not the ones who pay for the product or service. This happens whenever insurance companies are the primary payers in the business.)

If a business is business-focused, then it will look at everything through the lens of what is good for the business. (I am not saying this is bad. If a business owner does not look at what is good for the business, they won’t stay open for long.)

Other businesses may be customer-focused. If so, they will look at everything through the lens of what it feels like to be a customer of their business. (Some businesses need to do more of this. The less competition a business has, the more it tends to take the customer for granted.)

As with most things in life, taking either focus to the extreme will ultimately be harmful. A balanced approach is needed.

Enlightened self-interest (for the business) will require the business to recognize that without it’s customers, there is no business. Therefore, it is in the business’ self-interest to keep the customer satisfied. (In competitive arenas, you must go beyond satisfied customers and create ecstatic customers — ones who become raving fans.)

Happy customers buy more… and buy over and over again from you. (That’s good.)

However, there is a limit. If you lose money on a customer (or customers) repeatedly because of the measures you take to make them happy/keep them happy, then you are not serving the business. (And will eventually go out of business.)

Naturally, if you don’t have happy customers, they will quit buying from you and you will go out of business that way, too.

All that said, what is an attitude of customer service?

It is one that wants to make the customer happy. (You may not be able to realistically make every customer happy but the desire to do so creates the attitude for good customer service.)

I encounter too many businesses where the desire is for the customer to benefit the business, not the other way around. (You probably do, too.)

Once upon a time, I heard leaders harping about attitude and how I (and lots of others) needed to be sure we had a good one. And I asked, “How can I change my attitude? My attitude is something that is just within me naturally.”

And then, I discovered something. Our attitude is a result of the thoughts we think. Change the things you choose to think about — or the perspective you have, and your attitude changes. (For instance, if you think that customers are a nuisance and stand in the way of the “real” business, you will definitely devalue them. If, on the other hand, you begin to look at them as the source of your revenue and as your greatest sales force, your attitude towards them changes. You will want to make them happy.)

If you want to change the attitude of your business to have better customer service, then you need to change the thoughts of your business. (The business changes its thoughts when the owner sets the lead, acts consistently, and requires the employees to follow through on his lead.)

You may have heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” It was originated with the goal of helping create a good customer service model. You and I both know that, in reality, the customer is NOT always right. In fact, he is often wrong. However, he is still the customer. And that means the right or wrong, the customer is the one who keeps you in business… and you must satisfy him.

(When it becomes unprofitable to keep trying to satisfy a particular customer and what do about it is a discussion for another day.)

There’s lots more we could say about having an attitude of customer service… and perhaps we will in a future post. In the meantime, take a look at your attitude toward your customers. Is it all you want (or need) it to be? How about your employees’ attitude towards your customers (assuming you have employees)?

Disagree? Tell us about it the comments. Think this is fantastic? Go ahead and share. Have your own story about good customer service? Share it in the comments and let us all learn from it.

Have you taken a look at your business attitude and realize that you don’t have a clue? Perhaps you are too close to the situation (the old “blind spot” problem.) Maybe you need an outside eye to evaluate your business and help you find ways to turn “good” customer service into “you’re awesome” customer service? Contact me and let’s talk about it. I can help… or put you in touch with someone who can.

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